On a mission to spotlight benefits of even small bouts of exercise, as new Diabetes UK Ambassador

On a mission to spotlight benefits of even small bouts of exercise, as new Diabetes UK Ambassador

In this week’s column, I wanted to share an exciting announcement – my new role as Ambassador for Diabetes UK, confirmed during Diabetes Week which just concluded this month. The main focus for me would be to spotlight the many benefits of exercise in reducing our risks of pre-diabetes, and even reversing Type 2 diabetes.

I am marking the start of this new role by sharing my diabetes story. As a British South Asian Personal Trainer, I raised a campaign at the start of March 2020, just as the pandemic hit, as I was alarmed by the statistics that South Asians are six times more likely to have Type 2 diabetes than the general population. In fact, South Asian people make up just 4 per cent of the total UK population, but account for an estimated 8 per cent of all diagnosed cases of diabetes.

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In addition, South Asians are at higher risk of serious health complications, especially heart disease. South Asians without diabetes are three times more likely to develop cardiovascular disease, but combined with Type 2 diabetes, this risk rises even further, particularly for adults with Type 2 diabetes aged 20 to 60. Furthermore, the survival rates in these young patients are also significantly lower compared to the Caucasian population.

South Asians have also then been disproportionately affected by Covid-19, as studies show that the risk of dying from Covid in hospital is much higher among the South Asian population and that is linked to high levels of diabetes.

I have diabetes in my family. My late grandfather had it as well as many of his siblings and son. I’m sure most South Asians can agree to knowing a friend or relative with diabetes.

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Diabetes prevalence is said to increase by 47 per cent by 2025 and 2 million more diabetic in the next five years. The numbers of people with pre-diabetes has also increased dramatically and many of these are actually under the age of 40.

Therefore, the increase in diabetes risk in South Asian communities needs urgent intervention.

The good news is that those with prediabetics can take this opportunity to make immediate lifestyle changes to prevent the onset of diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is largely preventable and even reversible through exercise and healthy eating.

Using easy quick free concepts like my exercise snacking, I hope to help all ages get fitter, healthier and reduce risks. Studies show that exercise snacks/small bouts can lead to a 40 per cent reduction in blood sugar and blood fat levels.

In fact, by hitting the government guidelines for exercise, it is known to reduce your risk of Type 2 diabetes by up to 50 per cent. Moving more increases your body’s insulin sensitivity, manages Blood pressure, improves cholesterol, reduce and maintain a healthy weight and of course makes you Feel Good!

Keep an eye out for some exciting events and work I’ll be doing soon with Diabetes UK, where I hope to raise awareness and help our communities fight this chronic disease.

Lavina Mehta was awarded an MBE for services to health and fitness during Covid-19. She is passionate about promoting the health benefits of exercise to treat, prevent and reduce risks of common chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s and osteoporosis. In her regular Feel Good series with iGlobal, the award-winning personal trainer and wellness coach shares stories from her journey into fitness, workout tips and announcements about her upcoming online sessions.

*Info: Catch Lavina on Instagram IGTV; check out special offers at Feel Good Facebook Community; tune into her free seniors workout sessions Zoom; and replay saved sessions, many translated into Gujarati with her mother-in-law, on YouTube.

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